N is for Negation.

When we (me and DH) went back home for my MiL’s funeral in October of 2012 we had 4 days after the service to see family and friends.  DH’s best friend – Lou (let’s call him) – lives an 1 hour away and we were able to see him a few times.

There were a few things that bugged me from our visits.  I recognised right away, Samy’s (Lou’s wife) N behaviours.  She is covert in her behaviours and I feel that I am getting better  at seeing her behaviours in real time.  Even after recognising them I walked away still feeling like something was off – you know the feeling.

I racked my brain and I gave up on it for a while.  And then one day it hit me.  Maybe it was from something I read but I saw what Samy had done.  She had negated.

I didn’t call it that when I was replaying the conversations in my head:

Lou absolutely loathes his job.  In fact, every time we see him he talks about it.  When he came to visit my FiL before the funeral he talked non-stop about his job.  The visits before that he talked all about his job and how much he can’t take it.  DH and I listened and listened and I could relate to his situation well – I had a job I loathed and it can consume your thoughts and eat up your life.  Most of the time he would end the conversations with potential solutions.  It has been 2 years.  And still we listen. 

One night we went out to a bar for drinks and he again proceeded to talk about his job.  I started to tune it out until at the end of the conversation Samy says to us: “I just tell him he should just be grateful for having a job”.  

Her comment bugged me.  She was negating his feelings.  Her behaviour suggested that he wasn’t grateful for his job.  Never once did DH or I assume he wasn’t grateful for having one in a slow economy.  And subtly she was trying to tell us that she is this awesome wife by telling him to look at the positive.  The fact of the matter is that one emotion does not negate another.  He feeling disappointed and frustrated at work does not equal ungratefulness.  She is simply saying that his current feelings about his job deny the existence of his gratitude for having a job.

That was like saying I can’t love DH and at the same time be angry at him for leaving his shoes in the hallway for the 254th time.  When I’m angry at him I still love him.  When I am jealous of my friend I still am at the same time happy for him/her.  One emotion does not negate another.

When we saw them after that incident this past holiday break something interesting happened.  DH and Lou left to go pick up the pizza and during the car ride Lou begins about his job.  But this time Lou immediately says after complaining ‘Oh but I’m grateful I have a job.’  My DH says to him “Because you don’t like your job doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for it, it just means you don’t like it”.  Samy was brainwashing him and it was working.  On a side note, go DH!

N is for negation.  It is like one thing cancels out a million other things.  Kinda like getting a gift from an N after they have treated you badly for the past year.

xxoo TR

Myth: Love your job

When I graduated university I had a job I hated.  I stuck it out because of the amount of debt I had from school loans.  I had majored in a subject I didn’t enjoy which my NM choose for me and at the time, I didn’t stand up to her.  So, I was stuck – for a while.

Somewhere along my path of independence I started to read about how important it is to love your job (for this post, definition of job here means career and not role).  I had to love my job, find what you love and do it.

How unbelievably heavy that felt!  The more and more I read about it, the more and more I hated my subsequent jobs.  I even made a career change after sticking out the job that paid off my loans.  And I wasn’t in love.

And when I discovered Narcissism and my own battle as an ACoN that task became even heavier.  Love your job! (insert puke) How badly I wanted to ‘find myself’ and find what I love to do and start!  I even went back to school for a completely different degree and worked in an entirely different profession.  I’ve heard this is quite common for ACoNs.

And I’m still out of love.  My last job which I recently left has left me in a search and panic.  More search led to more panic.  More panic led to depression, anxiety and lack of sleep.

And then I read something else about loving your job and I thought: could all this be a lie?  Do you really need to love your job?

The research Brené Brown on whole-hearted people (emotionally healthy, authentic people) presented in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, tackled this myth.

Not all whole-hearted people love their job! 

Some do and some don’t.  This is not a criteria.  However, none are in a soul sucking career which they loathe.

I started to see the myth unravel before me as I read it for a second, third time.  How much of this fairy tale had become ingrained in my head and how much it had caused a lot of panic and fear and anxiety.

According to Brown’s research, whole-hearted people focus on meaningful work.  If meaningful work also pays the bills, then great, but it is a matter of luck if the two are aligned.  How you pay the bills does not have to be something you love.

And the best part is meaningful work is defined by each individual.  Meaningful doesn’t mean what society defines it as.  No one defines it for you.

Brown found that whole-hearted people play many roles and have a lot of slashes, kind of like in the entertainment industry: comedian/actor/director/producer.  I could be a marketeer/blogger/photographer/cook/traveler/student.  The whole is meaningful work for me.  What are your slashes?

Photo from my desk – representing my slashes.

And after feeling the sense of relief that the career I choose does not have to be the love of my life, I started to trickle back to my Ns.

Narcissists classify.  And well, slashes are messy for Ns.  They don’t like it.  They don’t understand it.  From my earliest childhood my NM instilled in me the phrase:

“Jack of all trades, the master of none.”

I looked up this phrase and found that it exists in many languages.  And how untrue this universal phrase is.  To love multiple things and do lots of things means only you love a lot of things.  No one said I had to master photography.  Why?  I don’t have a desire to be professional, my only goal is to take better travel photos, capture the beauty I see when I travel.  Why do I have to master it?  Why does it have be a profession?

My NM would say this all the time.  I loved to play volleyball and dance when I was young.  But I also loved to read books and I was good at math.  She would say that to me all the time.  You are a jack of all trades, the master of none.  Because I didn’t choose one thing and master it?  Why?

Looking at the Ns in my friendships, they struggled with this.  I was labeled by one or two things and that was it.  It was their way of classifying me nice and neatly.  To look at me from other angles is multi-dimensional.  And for my Ns that wouldn’t work.

I remember with the 2 recent Ns in my life – Marian and Lydia – they often struggled with it. I don’t know how to explain it but if I mentioned other activities in my life they often seem to feel confronted and become competitive.  Or if they would hear about something I’ve been doing for a long time they would be annoyed and attack me – like I was keeping it a secret or something.  Their behaviours would be so mind-boggling.

Even I looked at a lot of things one-dimensionally.  Thinking what pays the bills has to be something I love was one-dimensional.  Thinking that if I loved something I had to make a profession of it even though there was no desire to – like photography or cooking.

I am beginning to find more and more comfort in the slashes and try and look at my friends in that way too.  We all have slashes.